For some athletes competing at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the competition will represent their first experience of a truly multi-sport event.
Whereas ordinarily athletes will spend major competitions – such as world championships – surrounded by their team-mates and rivals from within their own sport, multi-sport events open up new avenues, new experiences and new opportunities.
Ellie Simmonds competed at four Paralympic Games during her career, and here gives us an insight into what athletes can expect from a debut multi-sport event.
“It was always an absolute honour to represent my country, regardless of the competition. At world championships, for example, there would be huge pride in competing in Great Britain colours, standing on top of the podium, and watching my friends and team-mates swim well and claim medals of their own.
“However, I can definitely say that this is taken to a whole new level with a multi-sport event, such as the Commonwealth or Paralympic Games.
“The environment is different. There are unfamiliar aspects, of course, but the busy, bustling nature of the village, and the fact that it’s inhabited by so many athletes of different attributes, experiences and backgrounds really adds something extra special to the experience.
“I’d absolutely urge all athletes to take advantage of this, and to share experiences and learn from as many different athletes as possible. This is particularly relevant in Birmingham, where able-bodied and para athletes will be competing together. That’s fairly unusual for a multi-sport event, so it provides all athletes with a fantastic opportunity to hear different perspectives and learn from different experiences of sport.
“The other brilliant thing about a multi-sport event is the enhanced team environment.
“Watching your team-mates from across sports bring in medals and produce outstanding performances provides real inspiration ahead of your own events, and naturally creates a great atmosphere of togetherness and unity.
“At the Paralympic Games, some of my proudest moments were walking through the village and getting a ‘congratulations’ or a ‘good luck’ from a ParalympicsGB athlete from another sport, and really feeling like I was competing not just for me, but for my entire team and my entire country.
“That’s a really special feeling, and I’d encourage all athletes to really embrace that in Birmingham.”